Whenever the opportunity arises, I like to tune the world out and put on a podcast where people far more intelligent than I will ever be discuss topics that I've considered but never deeply thought about. Over the last few years it seems as though just about anyone with an IQ high enough to put most members of Mensa to shame has started a podcast or YouTube channel where they discuss the topics that deeply resonate with them in an effort to help others who are not as cognitively gifted learn the value of thought. So while I listen to these people explain a concept or rationalise an opinion, I take their viewpoints and compare it to mine. Do we agree? Do we differ? What information do I need to acquire before deriving an informed opinion on a topic? This is how I spend my scraps of free time … and it makes me feel downright stupid.
Every few years I take a couple of intelligence tests to see how I fare. The first time was when I was 22 and the most recent was at the age of 39. Over the years the numbers have consistently put me between the likes of Homer Simpson and Stephen Hawking1. When I listen to the likes of Steven Pinker, Malcom Gladwell, Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson, and Joe Rogan, I feel cognitively inept. It's as though these people, despite their incredibly busy schedules and lives, have been able to dedicate so much time and effort to exploratory thought while I have used my thoughts to think about … nothing. I think about work. I think about how to solve problems. I think about the role modern technology can play in the classroom. But does any of this matter?
Listening to smart people gives me the opportunity to learn new things and explore unfamiliar ideas. Listening to smart people also gives me the opportunity to understand problems from a different perspective. However, listening to smart people also gives me the feeling that I have ultimately wasted a lot of my mind thinking about problems that probably didn't need me. A different way to present textbooks? A different way to manage online learning? A different way to construct a publication platform? Who cares? My work does not engage people but instead sits in the background as invisible as possible to enable what amounts to a micro-goal. I feel as though I've wasted the mind that I've been given by not using it to think about the more complex problems that plague the human condition.
Maybe Reiko is right. She's long said that I would find more value in academia than working within a corporation. By not pushing ideas to their limits and by not exploring concepts to their logical evolution, I feel as though I'm vacuous and too dumb to write. Thought without risk is not thought at all.
Homer Simpson apparently has an IQ of 55 and Stephen Hawking has never revealed his — or whether he's even taken the test. That said, the guy was clearly a genius. Albert Einstein earned a score of 160. Most people are somewhere between 90 and 110.